As this offseason starts to wind down and we begin to wait patiently for Spring Training to roll around, lets take a look back at the best move the Cardinals have made this offseason. In my view, this offseason has been a successful one for the St. Louis Cardinals. Could it have been better? Yes, but Im not here to complain. With making moves such as, trading for Marcell Ozuna, signing Luke Gregerson and Mike Mikolas. These additions to the roster were necessary and are pushing the Redbirds in the right direction heading into the 2018 season.
In my opinion, these moves pale in comparison to one of the first moves they made this offseason and that being bringing back Jose Oquendo back to the major league club. Though “The Secert Weapon” will never take an at bat or throw pitch this season, his finger prints will be all over this team, from improving the defense, bringing better decisions on the base paths , as well as providing leadership.
The biggest impact Oquendo will have on this team is his help in improving this defense. He is known around the league as a defensive mastermind and is known as the guy who can install that “Cardinal way” of playing great defense into these players. Over the past couple of seasons, the Redbirds have not really been following that “Cardinal way”.
According to Fangraphs, when loking at the combined defensive statistics from 2016 and 2017, the Cardinals rank 20th among MLB teams. That’s not the spot you would like to be ranked if you are looking to be a contending team and the Redbirds’ past two seasons reflect that number. The Cardinals have made no changes to their infield so I can’t really see a change coming from player personal, hopefully a lot change can be attributed to Oquendo and his return to the major league club and with his return we will defiantly see a better defensively in 2018.
Another impact Oquendo with have on this ball club is his decision making when it comes to baserunning. In 2017, the Cardinals ranked 15th in baserunning, and personally I felt made a lot of poor decisions on the base paths through out the season. With Oquendo roaming the 3rd base coaches’ box , the Cardinals have ranked as high as 2nd in the majors, when they hit this mark in 2013. The base-paths can be something that wins or loses who a few games through the year and with what 2018 is shaping out be with the division race with the Cubs, the Cards are going to need to steal as many games as possible.
Last but not least, Oquendo will bring some great leadership to this clubhouse, not just for the players but the coaching staff as well. Oquendo has been around this team since 1985, since he was player in AAA, that is 33 seasons in this Cardinals Organization. He was also around for the past 2 world championships the Cardinals have captured. He knows what this organization wants out of its players and he knows what it takes to win a World Series, and having someone around who has done that can be very beneficial for a ball club. . Oquendo, to me, seems to be the guy in the Cardinals’ organization that if he speaks you listen and trust what he has to say.
These are just some of the few reason why I think Jose Oquendo was the Cardinals best offseason move and why I can not wait for this 2018 Cardinals season. Pitchers and catchers report in 26 days!!!